Audio Remasterer: Mark Wilder.
Recording information: 03/26/1969; 03/26/1970; 05/11/1970; 05/13/1970; 05/15/1970; 06/29/1970; 12/23/1969; 12/29/1969; 12/30/1969; 12/31/1969.
Hits didn't necessarily start to dry up for Eddy Arnold after his huge 1965 crossover "Make the World Go Away" -- he remained a fixture in Billboard's Country Top Ten through 1968 -- but in 1969 his momentum certainly slowed, prompting him to take some measures to freshen his sound. His first idea was to bring Chet Atkins, the architect of the Nashville sound, back aboard to create a relatively pure country album called Love & Guitars, an LP that was followed quickly by Standing Alone, an album made with progressive head case Lee Hazlewood. Both records are on Each Road I Take: The 1970 Lee Hazlewood & Chet Atkins Sessions, a Real Gone 2016 compilation that adds the non-LP singles "Living Under Pressure"/"A Man's Kind of Woman" and "From Heaven to Heartache"/"Ten Times Forever More," plus the outtakes "Gentle Is My Love" and "How Do I Love Thee." Love & Guitars and Standing Alone both bear the imprint of their producers but they make for good companions, each offering a different perspective on the fallout of the '60s. Love & Guitars exists in a hazy hippie netherworld, softening the hard R&B edges of the Box Tops and turning John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" into pure MOR, and Merle Haggard's "(Today) I Started Loving You Again" is turned into a lazy waltz, a twist that suits Arnold's easy touch. Hazlewood plays with Arnold's gentleness, letting it suggest a deep melancholy on Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road" and finding a rural psychedelia within "July, You're a Woman" and "Some Lonely Picker," songs that hang in a soft suspension between cultures and formats. It's a sound that's very redolent of its time -- there's no questioning this is music made at the dawn of the '70s -- but it didn't make much impact upon its release, a fact that ultimately doesn't matter much because the music endures, existing at a crossroads between Arnold's easy listening crooning and the suddenly shifting tides of Nashville. It may not have been a hit, but Each Road I Take illustrates that this is one of the richest eras in Arnold's career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine